Newsletter December 2009
It is no surprise to see on the market today so many digestive and dietary aids for the stomach, along with pills for gas and indigestion. Many of these conditions begin with poor food combining.
The gastric fire or agni in the stomach and digestive tract is the main gate through which nutrients enter the tissues and then pass along to individual cells to maintain the life functions. Proper digestion is closely connected to the strength of agni.
Every food has its own taste, heating or cooling energy, and post-digestive effect. So while it is true that an individual’s agni determines how well or poorly food is digested, food combinations are also of great importance.
Poor combining can produce indigestion, fermentation, putrefaction and gas formation and, if prolonged, can lead to toxemia and disease.
There are various factors that can help lessen the possible effect of a bad food combination.
• A strong digestive fire is usually the most powerful tool of all to deal with bad food combinations
• Very often, spices and herbs are added to help make foods combatible or to ease a powerful effect. For example, antidotes like cardamom in coffee, or ghee and black pepper with potatoes, often can help alleviate some of the negative effects. (Coffee is stimulating and ultimately depressing to the system, and potatoes cause gas.)
• If foods with different and possibly aggravating qualities, such as a mixture of vegetables, are cooked together in the same pot, the foods tend to learn how to get along. Using appropriate spices and herbs helps with this too.
• Eating a bad combination occasionally usually does not upset the digestion too much.
Some Incompatible Food Combining
Fruit: Many fruits create a sour and indigestible wine in the stomach when mixed with other food. As a rule, avoid eating fruit with other food, except certain cooked combinations, such as cooked apples and dates. Fruit should be eaten in between or before a meal.
Raw food: Avoid eating lots of raw food with cooked foods. Likewise, avoid combining fresh foods with leftovers.
Boiled or cooked honey is poisonous to the system.
Coffee with milk is acid-forming
Lemon with cucumbers, milk, tomatoes or yogurt is bad for the digestion.
Quantity: Too many foods combined in one meal will create a gastronomic mess! 4-5 ingredients is ideal.
These are just some of the many incompatible combinations we ingest in today’s diet, mostly as a result of social conditioning. With the right awareness we can tune into the subtle effects of our food combinations and begin to make appropriate changes according to our constitution.
Some useful tips to aid digestion
- Eat half a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger with a pinch of rock salt before each meal to stimulate fire.
- Salt aids digestion, and helps retain water.
- Ghee stimulates agni and improves digestion.
- Chewing properly is essential for good digestion, ensuring food gets thoroughly mixed with saliva.
- Ideally, one should fill the stomach with one-third food and one-third liquid. The final third should be empty.
The wonders of cardamom
Cardamom is pungent, warm and aromatic. It has expectorant, stimulating, and tonic effects and is reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
It is used to counteract the toxic effects of mucus-forming foods, such as dairy products and wheat. The oil contained in the seeds has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and calmative effects.
Cardamom is used internally for indigestion, nausea, vomiting and pulmonary (lung) disease. It can be used with a laxative to prevent stomach pain, griping, as well as flatulence. The seeds are also chewed to sweeten the breath and taken to detoxify caffeine in people taking excessive amounts of coffee. Cardamom is also wonderful in chai. Please give our recipe a go!
Recipe: Chai tea
A lovely beverage to share with a friend. Enjoy!
3 cups water
½ inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 pinches powdered ginger
3 pinches ground cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
2 pinches ground nutmeg
1 tsp black tea (or dandelion, or red bush)
1 bay leaf
1 cup milk
Optional: black pepper
Boil the water with spices for five minutes, add tea, and simmer for two minutes. Add milk, and heat until hot, but not boiling. Add sweetener to taste, then serve. You can vary the spices/milk/tea according to taste.
Yummy Alternative: Mint Chai
Add the following, instead of black tea
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ cup fresh mint leaves or 1 tablespoon dried mint
Boil the water, add the tea spices and milk, strain and serve.